Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Aney, Bagi Cupcake Satu!"

I believe that's the first time I've ever wrote the title of a blog post in Malay...-ish. Not to mention there will be slang words as well as colloquial terms, because there's no way to do this entry without 'em. Not a problem at all, really. Just a a lil' something for me to ponder upon.

Before I go on, I gotta give a shout out and a huge thanks to Grand Brilliance for inviting a small-time blogger like me to their press conference.

Alright. On November 21st, details of their latest offering were revealed; a movie entitled Mamak Cupcake. Yes, it's exactly what you think it is. Mamak Cupcake follows main character MJ, played by Shaheizy Sam (I know, I'll get to that later), who is about a mamak who wants to bake cupcakes for a living. However, being the heir of a mapley restaurant chain forces him to bury that dream of his. Until one day, that spark is once again reignited when he meets a girl named Juliana, played by Siti Saleha ♥.

Look beyond the premise, and you'll see that this is a story about believing in what you're passionate about, even when the circumstances don't agree with you. Even when it appears as though your dreams are nothing more than foolish, naive hope. Just keep holding on. Have some laughs along the way, and everything will be just fine.

I haven't seen it, of course. But I was immediately taken by the theme, and how cupcakes and nasi kandar became like an analogy. You only need to put five minutes' worth of thinking into it to get what they're trying to sell to the audience. Granted, not a very deep one and rather light-hearted at that. But that's kind of the point, ain't it? Brevity is the soul of wit, after all. Besides, can you say the same about other comedies out there? What analogy can you draw from pitting a pontianak against an orang minyak?

Okay, I'm blabbering.

The point is... Whoa, hold on.

Well, hello there... *ahem*
Anyway... The point is, I can relate to that theme up there and I'm pretty damn sure I'm not the only one. I shall not go in depth about it, but let's just say that MJ is a protagonist that I will be able to empathise with and maybe even root for (little to do with the fact that the character is a mamak). However, there were a couple of things that I needed to be clear about before I could really say, "I'm sold!" Therefore I proposed three questions mainly addressed to director Woo Ming Jin, and screenwriter M. Zulkifli.

All of which, I think was pertinent to the movie.

#1 What sort of a comedy can we expect from Mamak Cupcake? Physical? Situational?
Interestingly, director Woo Ming Jin cited Will Ferrell movies and Bridesmaids [2005] as examples. Now, I never went to see Bridesmaids, and I'm not the biggest Will Ferrell fan. But, I absolutely loved Talladega Nights [2006] and The Other Guys [2010]. More importantly, I think I know where he was going with that. I'd rather not assume anything right now, but it's comforting to hear him say that it won't even be in the same neighbourhood as The Three Stooges.

Of course, once filtered through my head, I took this to mean that it ain't gonna be Mael Lambong or Apa Celop Toqq either. But hey, it's Ming Jin. I seriously doubt that he'll waste your time.

#2 Why couldn't have Azad Jazmin been in the lead role?
Not to discredit Shaheizy Sam, of course. Heck, I've been looking out for the dude since he kicked ass in Kongsi [2011], and when Songlap [2011] came around, I was a fan. So this is not a question of whether or not I think he can act. It's just that in my opinion, the imagery would be a lot stronger and arguably, more memorable if we were to see an actual mamak (or people who could pass as one) bake cupcakes. Think Azad Jazmin, Bront Palarae, Radhi Khalid, or maybe even Farouk Hussein.

You see, I believe that the movie has a really good theme, and a unique setting. I just don't want this movie to go down in history as another one of those movies Shaheizy Sam starred in when he was at the height of his popularity. They have Azad Jazmin, whom I first saw when he was in a telemovie. For the life of me I can't remember what was the title, but he was great in that one. His comedic timing was impeccable so I would have thought he'd be perfect for the role.

But to be fair, perhaps this is where some of the humour will come from. Ming Jin justified the casting by saying that Shaheizy Sam's character is more of a straight man than anything (No, I don't mean heterosexual), Azad Jazmin on the other hand, plays Shaheizy Sam's zany brother. So maybe it will play out in the same spirit as the pairings of Schwarzenegger and DeVito in Twins [1988], Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour movies (minus the ass-kicking), or perhaps even Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in the aforementioned The Other Guys.

I don't know, I'm just guessing from what I gathered from the press conference.

#3 What is it that you hope for the audience to walk away with?
Now this question was misunderstood in such a way, that the answer was somewhere along the lines of "wanting the audience to be entertained".

Totally not their fault though, I was that nervous and I pretty much mumbled through my three questions. What I really meant was if there are any ulterior motives for making this movie. Writing a story like this requires your heart to be invested in it, so what sentiment(s) would the writer like to impart to the audience? I didn't manage to ask this, but I found out that the answer stared right at me by the time I sat down to write this entry.

Later in the press conference, I caught up with director Ming Jin and reiterated the question. We had a pretty nice chat about it, and I can see that he has high hopes for our film industry. If I hadn't already liked him on the set of KL Zombie, I definitely would have liked him then.

Now, if you're hoping to see a release date, I'm afraid I can't help you there because the jury's still out on that one. However, the general consensus seemed to agree that it won't be out there until much later next year. But I'll be sure not to miss it. I love stories like this because they're something I can immediately relate to; The black sheep of the family who's good at something else, pushed to be what he doesn't want to be. Remember Pixar's Ratatouille [2007]? I have a feeling it's gonna be something like that, and in my book, that's definitely a good thing.

In the meantime, have a look at this featurette and other stills. Perhaps even drop a comment or two!

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